May 26, 2017
The Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" debuted 50 years ago Friday, topping the Billboard 200 charts for 15 straight weeks.
The album, one of the most critically acclaimed of all time, remains revered for its innovative recording techniques and psychedelic sound.
But by the time the album hit record stores on May 26, 1967, the Beatles had pulled the plug on touring, preferring to perfect their sounds from the studio.
The Fab Four only played twice in Philadelphia.
Their first appearance came on Sept. 2, 1964 at Convention Hall, the former civic center located in University City.
The Beatles played a 12-song set that lasted about 30 minutes and included "All My Loving," "She Loves You," and "A Hard Day's Night."
Tickets to the show cost $2.50 to $5.50, according to XPN.org, which looked back at the concert on its 50th anniversary. The 13,000-seat venue sold out in less than 90 minutes.
Here is a video clip featuring four songs from the concert – "Twist and Shout," "You Can't Do That," "All My Loving" and "She Loves You." Audio to the entire show can be found here.
Famed Philadelphia radio personality Hy Lit booked the show, paying $25,000 to the William Morris Agency.
The late Lit later wrote on his website that he and former Philly mayor Frank Rizzo, then a captain in the Philadelphia Police Department, had to sneak the Beatles into Convention Hall to avoid thousands of screaming fans.
"Frank and I arranged to have the Beatles smuggled in, from Atlantic City, where the day before they were performing at the Jersey Shore," Lit wrote. "While a decoy limousine procession traveled up the New Jersey White Horse Pike, a Hackney's fish truck, carrying the Beatles, slowly rolled up the Black Horse Pike, and casually passed thousands of screaming fans, into the food service entrance at Convention Hall."
Convention Hall was at 3400 Civic Center Blvd., on the edge of the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, near Franklin Field. Built in 1930 and rendered obsolete by the construction of the Spectrum, it was razed in 2005. Penn Medicine's Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine stands on the site now.
Afterward, Lit hosted the Beatles at his house because the city's hotels were packed with fans eager to spot their idols, according to onabbeyroad.com. He later gave away the pillow cases and sheets they used as part of a radio contest.
Here are photos from the show, courtesy of Temple University Libraries.
The Beatles returned to Philadelphia two years later for an Aug. 16 show at JFK Stadium.
That concert featured an 11-song set, including "Yesterday," "Day Tripper" and "Nowhere Man."
Below are a couple images from that show.